The relative disappointment of the Philadelphia Phillies season now has a new feature.
A hustle benching. Well, it’s a lack-of-hustle benching, to be clear.
Manager Gabe Kapler announced prior to Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers that third baseman Maikel Franco would not be in the starting lineup.
Franco wasn’t injured. He failed to run out a ground ball during an ugly 16-2 loss to the Dodgers on Monday.
Franco records 3rd out with base loaded
The offense occurred in the third inning when Franco hit a grounder to third base with the bases loaded against Clayton Kershaw and the Phillies leading, 1-0.
Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy pulled his foot off the bag to secure the ensuing throw from Justin Turner, but was able to replace his foot by the time Franco touched the base. Third out, inning over.
And now Franco’s riding the pine.
Kapler: ‘Critical to address’
Kapler, who’s under pressure of his own in his second season in the dugout after a 48-46 start that includes a 15-24 run since the end of May, made clear the reason for Franco’s benching with reporters prior to the game.
“You guys know that these decisions or me taking a player out of the lineup in a punitive way is not my natural way of handling these type of situations,” Kapler said. “In this particular situation, I thought it was critical to address in part because right after some of the other incidents that we've had — I had a conversation with the club. I shared with them that it's not an acceptable level of effort and that we have to do a better job, so I thought this was the right time to make a change in this situation.”
Kapler acknowledged that Franco was experiencing groin tightness, but that his ailment was not the reason for his night off, according to MLB.com.
“I said, 'Look, I can't put you in the lineup today,’ Kapler said of his conversation with Franco. “He said he was ready to play today. I said, ‘I still can't put you in the lineup today, because if you're not able to give us that 100 percent effort down the line in that situation last night, it's not right for me to start you today.’ He understood that and accepted full responsibility for it.”
Kapler looking to motivate?
Hopes were high for the Phillies after a big offseason highlighted by the signing of Bryce Harper. They’re in the thick of the wild card race but sit 9 1/2 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
There’s still plenty of time for the Phillies to make their playoff push. But for now, Kapler’s left to dig deep for motivational tactics as he tries to bust his Phillies out of a slump.
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